December 2011

3 December 2011

The replacement DME relay arrived on the 1st. I was pleased to note that the replacement appeared to be an improved version, rated at 30 amps instead of the 15 amp rating of the original. And the failed one did appear to be original, there was a date code stamped on it - 01.03.84 - which matches well with the 3/84 build month of my car.

The car has started fine ever since with the new relay. But I have my little bypass wire in the glove box, just in case....

6 December 2011

Today I decided to try to fix the horns, as I figured out early on that only one of the pair was working. In theory, to access the horns you are supposed to have to remove the front bumper. But I decided that I could probably get them in and out from under the car and through the hole in the valance for the right fog light.

This turned out to be correct, and after removing, disassembling, cleaning, reassembling and adjusting the offending horn, it worked fine. It turns out the horns have a very nice European sound. I like it.

11 December 2011

Not a lot happening this week. Knowing that the winter rains are coming, I picked up a set of PIAA silicone wiper blades for the car. I also reversed the wipers so that they park on the passenger side of the car. This is a relatively common modification, as it not only gets the parked wipers out of the driver's vision, but also (in my experience) leaves the windshield a bit cleaner between wipes as in the normal configuration the passenger wiper tends to throw water right in front of the driver. Reversing the wipers reduces this. I think I'm ready for the rain.

31 December 2011

My car has been visited by the parts fairy!

Yes, I've been a bit busy ordering—and then installing—new parts. While this car was actually equipped very well (to my taste) when I bought it, there are always a few things to change and improve and I've begun that process now. The first real improvement was a small thing, more of a crime of opportunity. I had noticed right away that the high beam indicator was very dim, so dim that it was barely visible at night and totally non-existant in the daytime. I had tried a new bulb on the hopes that the one in it was getting old and tired, but that made no difference. I started doing some research on this and during that I stumbled across a guy who makes LED replacement bulbs for the Porsche gauges. He offers a special blue LED specifically for the high beam indicator to address this issue. I bought one, installed it, and now the indicator truly does indicate even in the daylight. A quick, affordable fix.

Then I started gathering parts to address one of the traditional Porsche shortcomings—the shift linkage. Sloppy, imprecise shift linkages are a problem that Porsche 911 owners have dealt with for decades. The first 911's were sold in 1965, Porsche finally took care of this in the 1987 models.

The problem is two-fold. The shift linkage connects to the transmission under an access panel just in front of the rear seats via a coupling that comes from the factory with relatively soft rubber bushings that were designed to have a fair amount of slop or play. This was apparently done to reduce noise and vibration from getting into the passenger compartment, but it also brought a soft, imprecise feel to the fore and aft shift motions.

The other problem is that there is no spring loading or centering action to the linkage between the 1-2 and 3-4 gates. When in neutral the shift lever just flops wherever side-to-side. When shifting from second to third for example, a driver needs to use a very definite up-over-up motion to ensure that the correct gear is selected. The feel of the shifter because of this is unlike any other car I can think of. Very disconcerting to new owners.

Of course, both issues can be remedied with aftermarket parts. There are several suppliers of improved coupler bushings made of firmer material and without the built in slop of the factory bushings. I ordered a pair from The Coupler Whisperer made of a self-lubricating nylon-like material called Delrin. I installed these bushings shortly after Christmas. The improvement in shift feel from the bushings alone was dramatic. I highly recommend them.

And there are several solutions to adding a preload to the side-to-side motion at the lever as well. One of the more popular (and affordable) kits is called a Gate Shift Kit (GSK) made by Seine Systems. This kit preloads the lever into the 3-4 plane (the same as most cars do), while also adding locators or "gates" for first and second gears, the same as Porsche did for fifth and reverse.

The GSK is a bit more complicated to install, requiring some drilling and (since my car is equipped with the factory short shifter) some work with a die grinder. But even so, it only took an hour or so to install and adjust it. And as with the coupler bushings, the difference is impressive. The shift action feels relatively normal, which is quite a difference for a pre-87 Porsche!

I also ordered and installed a headlight relay kit, which helps prolong the life of the headlight and dimmer switches (by not running so much current through them), and as a side benefit delivers more and more stable current to the lights themselves, so they tend to be a bit brighter. Another good addition.

I've got a couple more changes in mind, but those will have to wait for later.

Continued in January...